The Good Twin

The Good Twin by Marti Green


September 1990

“Push,” the obstetrician told Sasha Holcolm. “You’re almost there.” Seventeen-year-old Sasha thought she’d never experienced such pain before. By the time she’d arrived at the hospital, been checked in, and rushed to the delivery room, she was too close to giving birth for the doctor to give her an injection to numb the pain. She’d waited at home for her best friend, Lauren, to arrive from Allentown, usually a ninety-minute drive to Scranton, but a traffic jam had stopped her cold. Still, Sasha had read that a first baby always took forever to deliver. She’d been expecting eight hours at least—maybe much more. Finally, the pains were coming too close. Sasha couldn’t wait for her friend. She took a taxi to the hospital all alone, without a husband or a parent. A breathless Lauren arrived while Sasha was still being processed in the emergency room, and ten minutes after being admitted, she’d been instructed to push.

Lauren lifted up her back with each push and whispered in her ear, “You can do it. You’ll have your baby soon.”

Sasha gave one more thrust, and a baby slid out of her.

“You have a daughter,” the doctor said, smiling. She clamped the umbilical cord, then cut it. A nurse took the baby, dried her off, then wrapped her in a towel. “The next one is almost here, too,” the doctor said.

“Next one?”

The doctor looked up at her. She seemed so young to Sasha, almost like a coed, despite the white jacket.

“Didn’t you know you were having twins?”

Sasha shook her head just as the pain started again.

“Here we go,” the doctor said. “This one should do it.”

She screamed at the pain as she pushed. Seconds later, the doctor held up another baby. “This one’s a girl, also.” Another nurse took that baby. When they were wrapped up, both were brought to Sasha, one in each arm.

“They’re beautiful,” Sasha said. She stared into their eyes and felt a rush of love for them. She hadn’t known it would happen so instantaneously.

She didn’t want to think about what she needed to do, now that there were two. She was too happy to worry about that now.

Sasha picked up her newborn daughter and cradled her in her arms. So pink, so soft, so beautiful. Silky strands of blonde hair covered her scalp, and she had eyes so blue, they looked like jewels. She’d known she’d love her child, but she was thunderstruck by how deep the connection was after just one day. She pressed her lips to her daughter’s cheek and inhaled the fresh scent of baby powder. “I love you,” she whispered, then placed her back in the bassinet and lifted up the second baby, just as pink, as soft, as beautiful. Tears ran down her face as she held this child. “I love you, too. I always will.”

The middle-aged woman sitting on a chair in the corner rose from her seat. “It’s time now.”

“Just a little longer? Please?”

The woman nodded. “Two more minutes.”

Sasha stared into her daughter’s eyes. They were wide-open, staring back, as if she knew what was about to happen. Suddenly, Sasha couldn’t bear it any longer. “Here. Take her.” She handed over the baby to the woman and watched as her daughter was taken away. When she was gone, the young mother lay down on the hospital bed and curled her body into a fetal position. “I love you, too,” she said, over and over again.




September 2016

I picked at the meager offerings on my plate, and once again, as I had every day for the past thirty-one months, wished I could find a way to get out of this dump. That’s what I called the place—The Dump. The most I’d been able to afford was a boardinghouse in East Elmhurst. I hadn’t known they’d even existed when I’d left Scranton and moved to New York. Boardinghouses were the stuff of a Dickens novel, not modern times. Yet, here I was, picking at runny eggs and burned toast with three other lost souls living at Marlon Manor, a fancy-sounding name for a rundown, two-story home on Astoria Boulevard.

Lou Castro, the owner of the house, stood up from the dining table to retrieve the pot of coffee and, as he always did, squeezed my shoulder. He was a middle-aged letch with a stomach that rolled over his belt by at least six inches, and whose pants always seemed to display the crack of his butt every time he leaned over. He’d been trying to get in my pants ever since I’d moved in, despite his wife watching his every move. As if he’d have a chance, even without that nag around! Thank goodness my room had a lock on the door. Still, I never complained to him about his roaming hands. After all, this hovel at least gave me a roof over my head.

“Some coffee, Mallory?” Lou asked me.

“Sure.” He poured some into my mug, then squeezed my shoulder again.

I finished breakfast, then retreated to my room. All I owned was contained in this ten-by-twelve space, with its barren walls and peeling paint. I couldn’t even claim possession of the saggy twin bed, or the plain end table with a small lamp on top. I didn’t report to work until noon, in time for the lunch crowd. I’d be busy waiting tables until past two. Then it would slow down until five, when the dinner patrons began to arrive.

I moved a chair over to the window, then pulled out my sketch pad and 6B pencil. I began sketching the street below, the stores already busy with customers, the same old woman walking her miniature dog that I saw every day at this time, the cars speeding past. The pencil felt like part of my body, an extension of my fingers. From the time I’d received my first box of crayons, I was hooked on drawing. “You’re good,” my high school art teacher had told me. “Very good. Speak to me after class, and I can point you in the direction of the right college for you. Where you can develop your talent. Your grades are so excellent, you can get in most anywhere, but I can tell you which schools have the best art departments.” I had wanted to laugh at her, at the thought that I could go to college. I didn’t, though. I was too polite to laugh at a teacher. Instead, I said, “That would be great,” and I showed up after school, wrote down the names given to me, and pretended to be grateful.

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